Hon. Sarath Amunugama, Minister of Finance of Sri Lanka attended the 2005 Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the World Bank and IMF, meetings of the G-24, International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) and the Development Committee (DC) in Washington D.C. from September 21-26, 2005. During the visit, the Minister of Finance addressed the Annual Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank and met with senior officials of the IMF and World Bank receiving firm assurances of support for the country’s post-tsunami recovery program and development efforts.

The Minister addressed the 2005 Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the IMF and the World Bank on September 25, 2005 at the World Bank, in his capacity as Sri Lanka’s Governor (of the two institutions). The panel presiding the meeting included Mr. Rodrigo de Rato, Managing Director of the IMF and Mr. Paul Wolfowitz, the new President of the World Bank. Speaking at the forum, Minister Amunugama informed the gathering that despite the impact of the tsunami, the Sri Lankan economy grew over 5.5 per cent in 2005, with agriculture, industry and services all registering robust growth. He cautioned, however, that the current surge in oil prices was affecting the country’s pace of economic growth, inflation and the balance of payments. He therefore, proposed that a medium-term financing arrangement be constituted by the Bank and the Fund to assist low income countries severely affected by the rise in oil prices to enable them to sustain open and liberal trade and exchange systems.

Highlighting that Sri Lanka, by maintaining prudent policies and management, had emerged from low income to middle income status with a per capita income of US$ 1,040, Minister Amunugama urged the Bretton Woods institutions to reward countries that have achieved such success by continuing to extend development assistance and support.

Minister Amunugama informed the gathering that the preliminary findings of a seismic survey, recently conducted in the Gulf of Mannar (west of Sri Lanka), revealed the presence of offshore petroleum resources with potential for high quality hydro carbon deposits. This prospect is expected to be further defined by additional 2D seismic surveys in December and international licensing is scheduled for the first quarter in 2006.

The visiting Minister had successful discussions with senior officials of the World Bank and the IMF, including Shengman Zhang, Managing Director and Praful Patel, Regional Vice President, South Asia Region of the World Bank, and Takatoshi Kato, Deputy Managing Director of the IMF, who assured continued support for Sri Lanka in its efforts to develop economic stability and growth.

The Minister of Finance had bilateral meetings with the Finance Ministers of India, Saudi Arabia and Iran, and the Vice Minister of Finance of Japan Hiroshi Watanabe, on the sidelines of the 2005 Annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank. The discussions with Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim Al Assaf and Finance Minister of Iran Davoud Danesh Ja’fari focused on the impact of the oil price surge on the country’s economy and the progress made in the post-tsunami recovery effort with the bilateral assistance received from each of these countries. The Finance Ministers gave strong assurances of their continued support for the development efforts of Sri Lanka.

The Finance Minister’s delegation included Ambassador Bernard A.B. Goonetilleke, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the United States; Mr. Sunil Mendis, Governor, Central Bank of Sri Lanka; Mr. R.A. Jayatissa, Deputy Secretary to the Treasury; Dr. Uthum Herat, Alternate Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund; Mr. A. Abeygunasekera, Additional Director General of the External Resources Department of the Ministry of Finance and Planning; Dr. H.N. Thenuwara, Director of Economic Research of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka; Mr. S.R. Attygalle, Director, Fiscal Policy Department of the Ministry of Finance and Planning and Ms. Dhammika Semasinghe, First Secretary of the Embassy of Sri Lanka.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

28 Septmeber 2005


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